No. 22 UConn beats VCU 70-63 in OT for 3rd at Atlantis

UConn Huskies

In this photo provided by Bahamas Visual Services, VCU guard Jayden Nunn (23) brings the ball up court as Connecticut’s Jalen Gaffney (0) reaches in during an NCAA college basketball game at Paradise Island, Bahamas, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021. (Craig Lenihan/Bahamas Visual Services via AP)

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — R.J. Cole scored 26 points and Isaiah Whaley hit two late 3-pointers in his return to the lineup, helping No. 22 UConn beat VCU 70-63 in overtime for third place at the Battle 4 Atlantis on Friday.

Whaley had 16 points for the Huskies (6-1), including a tying 3 late in regulation and the go-ahead 3 at the 3:54 mark in OT. He also came up with a punctuating three-point play with 4.5 seconds left, celebrating his breakaway basket by with celebratory punches and two head-butts on the padded basket support.

The 6-foot-9 graduate forward missed Thursday’s loss to Michigan State after fainting briefly after playing 43 minutes during a double-overtime win against No. 19 Auburn in Wednesday’s first round.

UConn won despite shooting just 33% while committing 22 turnovers, with Whaley’s 3 standing as the only basket in overtime for either team until the final 12 seconds.

Jayden Nunn scored 21 points for the Rams (3-4), who led by four late in regulation. VCU had its own offensive troubles, shooting 36% and going 2 for 9 in the extra period.

This was a defensive-oriented game with physical play, one in which neither the Huskies nor the Rams got many easy looks. And it turned nearly everything after halftime into a grind to the finish, with neither team leading by more than four points in the second half.

VCU led 54-50 before UConn’s Tyrese Martin knocked down a 3 from the corner. The Huskies tied it at 56 when Whaley knocked down a 3 off a kickout from Adama Sanogo with 1:05 left.

UConn got the last chance to avoid overtime with an inbounds play from near half-court with 0.8 seconds left, but Cole’s catch-and-turn 3 near his bench hit the rim and fell away to push the game into overtime.

BIG PICTURE

VCU: The Rams opened the tournament by beating Syracuse 67-55, holding the Orange to 29% shooting, but they lost to reigning national champion Baylor 69-61 in Thursday’s semifinals. VCU’s defense is ranked among KenPom’s national leaders in defensive efficiency (88.6 points allowed per 100 possessions) and played like it, but the Rams just couldn’t come up with a couple of needed baskets late to win this one.

UConn: The Huskies’ first-round win was a memorable one, a wild 115-109 double-overtime victory against No. 19 Auburn filled with big shots down the stretch. UConn gave up the final nine points in a 64-60 semifinal loss to Michigan State on Thursday, but this time had enough to finish strong in the overtime against VCU’s defensive pressure.

UP NEXT

VCU: The Rams get a week off before hosting Campbell on Dec. 4.

UConn: The Huskies host Maryland-Eastern Shore on Tuesday.

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More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aaronbeardap

Copyright 2022 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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2021 UConn Men’s Basketball Schedule

2021 UConn Men’s Basketball
Date Opponent Time TV
9/9 @Central Connecticut 6:30pm FS1%
9/13 @ Coppin State Noon FS2
9/17 @ Long Island 6:30pm FS2
9/20 @ Binghamton non FS2
9/24 vs. Auburn 2:30pm ESPN
9/25 vs. Michigan State/Loyola-Chicago TBD ESPN/ ESPN2
9/26 vs. TBD TBD TBD
9/30 @ Maryland-Eastern Shore 7:00pm CBS SN
12/4 @ Grambling State 4:00pm FS2
12/8 @West Virginia TBD TBD
12/11 vs. St. Bonaventure 3:30pm ESPN2
12/18 @ Providence 5:00pm FOX
12/21 @ Marquette 9:00pm FS1
12/28 @ Xavier 7:00pm FS1
1/1 vs. Butler 4:00pm FS1
1/8 @ Seton Hall Noon FOX
1/12 vs. St. John’s 8:30pm FS1
1/15 @ Providence 2:00pm FS1
1/20 @ Butler 9:00pm FS1
1/25 @ Georgetown 8:30pm CBS SN
1/29 @ DePaul 6:30pm FS1
2/1 vs. Creighton 6:30pm FS1
2/5 @ Villanova Noon FOX
2/8 vs. Marquette 6:30pm FS1
2/13 @ St. John’s Noon FOX
2/16 vs. Seton Hall 8:30pm CBS SN
2/19 vs. Xavier noon FOX
2/22 vs. Villanova 8:00pm FS1
2/27 @ Georgetown Noon CBS
3/2 @ Creighton 8:30pm FS1
3/5 vs. DePaul TBD TBD

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